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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, January 21, 2002

Art teacher draws out individuality

By Rod Ohira
Advertiser Staff Writer

Daunna Yanoviak teaches her students how to listen with their eyes and speak with their hearts through the language of art.

There is such a demand for art teacher Daunna Yanoviak that she has never had to advertise her studio.

Cory Lum • The Honolulu Advertiser

"She is not a cookie-cutter art teacher," said Anne Sage, one of Yanoviak's adult pupils. "She's able to push the unique self-starter button in each person and gives them the creative tools to express what's most important them.

"All my life, I've listened with my ears and heart. But Daunna teaches you how to rediscover the uniqueness of everything. It's like looking at things through the eyes of a baby."

The 63-year-old Yanoviak founded Daunna's Art Studio, at 1279 Ulunale St. in the Pohakupu subdivision near Kailua High School, in 1974. She has never had to advertise and the studio is not listed in the telephone directory because there's always been a heavy demand for her services.

Yanoviak has 60-plus pupils, ranging in age from 6 to 80. Among her teaching assistants are former pupils Karen Kiefer and Michelle Tamayose, who both teach art at Le Jardin Academy.

Yanoviak's teaching philosophy was influenced by two men she studied under — polio-stricken Frenchman Edouard Druex of the Art Student League in New York City and Victor Lowenfeld, a professor at Penn State University.

Growing up in Pennsylvania, the former Daunna Doebler took private lessons for nearly 10 years from Druex, who had come to her town to teach.

"I learned all my techniques from him," she said. "Because of polio, his body was held together by wires and rods. Whenever there was lightning, he would wither in pain.

"His hands always shook except when he held a paintbrush. His mind was able to overcome every physical disability you could imagine. By the time I went to college, I knew everything about art."

Or so she thought.

While walking down the hallway one day, she heard Lowenfeld lecturing on art education, philosophy and life. The man she describes as "the granddaddy of art philosophy in America for the 20th century" would mentor her until his death in 1959.

"He would not let me graduate until I had my own philosophy for life, art and education," Yanoviak said. "I had to develop them to a point where I could express them and live them. The gift he gave me never went away. It's what I give to my students.

"Creativity and learning art is far more than painting a beautiful picture. Art is expression and communication with what you have to say. To be an artist, you need to have something to say. It is what makes you unique."

Yanoviak's students start off learning about perspective. It starts with lessons about the horizontal line and an ocean view is the perfect model for it, she said.

"It's always at eye level," she said of ocean views. "Perspective is important because everything you do in art goes to the horizon line."

Perspective is where the journey to unite creativity with individual expression begins, she said.

"How the journey happens, not the end product, is the art," Yanoviak said. "The process is essential because it ties everything together and makes the full person. Everybody can do art because it's the spirit of it and the act of doing it that's important. How well we do it is what creativity is. And having creativity is something that will help you no matter where you go in life."

Yanoviak, the youngest of five children, has always had an appreciation for art and music. She is a pianist and cellist as well as a painter. After graduation from Penn State, she worked in the Edgemont Public School System in Scarsdale, N.Y.

"I developed how I would teach while working in New York," she said.

In 1962, she married architect Andrew Yanoviak, a building designer. He was doing well in Philadelphia but the couple moved to Hawai'i in 1968 so they could raise their three children in a place "with a more worldwide view," she said. "The philosophy of the aloha spirit was what we were looking for."

Daunna Yanoviak taught art in the DOE's Windward District from 1968-73 and worked as a University of Hawai'i instructor in the Art Education for School Teachers program from 1973-76.

Yanoviak had a studio in her home, where she taught art to her children and their friends. She received a call one day from a mother seeking lessons for her 6-year-old daughter. The child was Karen Kiefer. "She's a talented painter and is still here with me as a teacher," Yanoviak said.

On a small island, the supreme complement is word-of-mouth endorsements. Daunna's Art Studio's success over 27 years speaks volumes of what people think of her teaching philosophy.

Reach Rod Ohira at 535-8181 or rohira@honoluluadvertiser.com.